© Edward Mills

Coupes and Cords (2016-2019)

Working with woodland managers to restore neglected woodland, creating a more sustainable, ecologically and visually diverse landscape.

Coppiced over many centuries, the extensive woodlands of the Rusland Valley and fells once supported hundreds of jobs and fuelled a large part of the local economy. The coppices were a haven for many threatened plant, butterfly, moth, bird and small mammal species.  Much of this woodland has been under-managed and important habitats lost.

The Coupes and Cords project (2016-19) worked with apprentices, woodland owners, volunteers and contractors to carry out a variety of woodland management activities. It focused predominantly on coppicing, but also thinning, boundary work, deer management and enrichment planting.

The project has introduced the benefits of coppicing to the Rusland Valley community. It provided opportunities to learn new skills and be actively involved in putting back some of their woodlands into management, ensuring they are in a better condition for future generations.


  • With 47 landowners involved in the project, a longer-term understanding of the land, maintenance requirements and a commitment to look after it has been established. 
  • Six woodlands have been brought into planned management, all of which now have management plans, helping to safeguard their future.
  • Apprentices have substantially increased their skills; learning about coppicing, woodland management and traditional work such as dry-stone walling.
  • Volunteers from the local community have learnt about Rusland Valley’s heritage and been taught traditional, practical, hands-on skills they can use in the future. 
  • Over 7000 trees were planted, improving forest age structure and helping the woodlands be more resilient.
  • Revitalised coppice growth will provide opportunities for future coppice workers to produce woodfuel, or products for crafts, to help sustain their livelihoods.

Our 'Fighting for Atlantic Woodland' project takes up the mantle from this project to continue the work it started.  Find out more here

New gateway at Light Hall Wood

So far so good...

  • 47 landowners engaged in woodland management activity.
  • 237 ha of woodland brought into management.
  • 11.2 ha coppice woodland restored.
  • 6 new woodlands planted.
  • Over 7000 individual trees planted.
  • 778 tonnes of firewood harvested.
  • 1910m of woodland boundaries repaired.
  • 88 metres of dry-stone wall built or repaired.
  • 4634m fencing repaired or newly installed.
  • 15 woodland management plans written.
  • New gateway and repaired wall at Light Hall Wood, Rusland - see article.

Did you know?

  • Only 13% of land in the UK is covered by woodland.
  • Coppicing has been traced back to Neolithic times by archaeologists who have excavated wooden tracks over boggy ground made entirely of coppiced material.


Project Lead

Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership Team (2016-19)

The Challenge

The area’s woodlands were intensively worked for many centuries to produce charcoal and other wood products. When demand for charcoal declined in the twentieth century, most of this working woodland became commercially redundant, leading to a lack of management and neglect. This resulted in a change to the character of woodlands, with even-aged stands of trees all reaching maturity at the same time. Habitat structure was also declining, leading to loss of species.

Our Approach

By engaging and working with local landowners we have started to reverse the decline and make long lasting, positive changes in woodlands across the scheme area. Using a combination of apprentices, volunteers, local coppice workers and contractors we have successfully restored and created several new woodlands by carrying out essential management tasks. This has already had a significant impact on declining woodlands flora and increased habitats for a range of rare species once prevalent in the Rusland Valley.

We have supported woodland owners to produce Woodland Management Plans and, where possible, access Countryside Stewardship grants to sustain the work. Establishing more areas covered by woodland management plans will help to leave a positive legacy and support local woodland practitioners to continue this work for years to come.

We continue to have opportunities to support the ongoing management of these woodlands through our 'Fighting for Atlantic Woodland' project.  Get in touch if you'd like to learn more!

Can You Help?

We need volunteers

Unless marked as optional, all fields are required

Your Details

Interested in multiple projects? Click here

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2024. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons was a Landscape Partnership funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund until July 2019. It is now being delivered by The Rusland Horizons Trust Limited. Company No. 2133450; Charity No. 519410; Registered Office: Bleacott Farm, Witherslack, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6RZ.